The Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili on Monday 25th November paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Parliament the Rt. Hon. Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye.
The Speaker and the Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu and some officials of the Parliamentary Service received the UNWTO Boss at the Speakers Conference Room in Parliament House.
Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili accompanied by Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture and a large delegation of WTO regional representatives was in Accra to attend First Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in the Tourism sector-Focus on Africa which is underway at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) in Accra from 25 to 27 November 2019.
The Congress aims at analysing the current challenges and opportunities for women's empowerment in the tourism sector to create a synergy among African countries and key stakeholders for greater co-operation in the promotion of women's participation in the tourism sector.
During their meeting, Ambassador Pololikashvili highlighted WTO’s efforts to developing the tourism system through institutional reform, as well as training and qualifying tourism workers and stressed WTO’s keenness to cooperate with Ghana to promote tourism as a vital pillar of Ghanaian economy.
Zurab Pololikashvili expressed his hope that the UNWTO would continue to work with Ghana and that Ghana returns to its deserved tourism position internationally with the aim of having a more integrated and innovative approach of tourism development for inclusive growth leading to the achievement of all dimensions of sustainable development.
He discussed methods to maximize WTO’s efforts in entrepreneurship and support young investors in the field of tourism and also assured Ghana of WTO’s assistance in her role in consolidating sustainable tourism as a concept.
He also assured the Speaker of WTO’s structural reform programme for the development of the tourism sector in Ghana which includes multiple reform dimensions aimed at raising the competitiveness of the sector.
The Rt. Speaker in his welcome address expressed his gratitude to the WTO Secretary-General and called for WTO’s partnership with the aim of having a more integrated and innovative approach of tourism development for inclusive growth, leading to the achievement of all dimensions of sustainable development in the government’s One District One Factory agenda.
He further informed the WTO delegation that Ghana recognized tourism more and more as a strategic tool for inclusive development and have integrated the sector into its national and socio-economic agendas since it has enormous potential to create employment opportunities and spur economic development.
He disclosed that the sector has the potential to contribute to greater gender equality and provide women with more opportunities for empowerment than other sectors and that more Ghanaian women are increasingly using tourism to combat gender stereotypes in line with the Ghana Beyond Aid programme.
The Rt. Hon Speaker stressed that the employment situation for women in tourism is improving in the country and the introduction of gender-specific tourism policies has had a positive impact for women’s empowerment in the sector.
Professor Oquaye reiterated that Ghana places women’s empowerment, gender equality and youth at the core of her social and economic development and has identified tourism as a development tool in line with the UNWTO Agenda for Africa roadmap for inclusive growth on women empowerment through tourism.
He however lamented that, despite the progress in recent decades, women in Ghana are unfortunately still not leading the sector and female talent remains one of the most underutilised resources as they largely continue to occupy the lower-paid jobs while persisting barriers to education and training mean many women enter the tourism employment market without the necessary skills; an inequality that leaves more women disadvantaged to men.
The Speaker was hopeful that through a concerted effort across the public and private spheres to mainstream gender-equality policies, the tourism sector can undeniably play an increased role in helping women from disadvantaged communities to break the poverty cycle.
He therefore informed the WTO Chief that the sector can provide greater opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and community-based initiatives as well as helping to address the educational gender-divide through vocational training opportunities and increased interaction with new technologies and appealed for WTO’s intervention and assistance.
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili has been Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) since 1st January 2018 after being elected by the 22nd Session of UNWTO General Assembly. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Spain, the Principality of Andorra, the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and the Kingdom of Morocco and Permanent Representative of Georgia to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) up to December 2017.